Quick Interview #3 – Marian Neill

Marian Neill

Quick Interview #3 – Marian Neill

When did you start Softball?
I started in 2009.

Why Softball??
My dad saw an advertisement on Gumtree for an Introductory league run by Softball Ulster, so I decided to go along and try it out! We were split into 3 teams, trained in the basics like batting and throwing and then played matches over a couple of weeks. After the final week those interested in continuing with softball had a meeting with Softball Ulster who helped those of us start a team. We formed Belfast Sliders Softball Club and played the second half of the 2009 season – 8 of the original group still play!

Have you played any other sports?
I played Camogie until I was 18/19, and I currently play hockey for Pegasus and Baseball for Belfast Buccaneers.

What club do you play for?
I play for Belfast Sliders in the Ulster League.

Do you have any pre match routines?
No.

When was your first international game?
I played for Team Ireland at Diamond 3 in London in July 2014.

What can we do to continue to getting people interested in Softball?
I think things like social media and “word of mouth” help Softball as it’s one of the those sports locally a lot of people don’t realise exists, while events like introductory leagues or open days are a great way to boost participation.
I also think if we could get people involved from a younger age it would really help the develop the sport, as a lot of people are either established in a sport or are not longer interested in playing sport by the time they would be allowed to play softball.

Are you sponsored?
No – it’s all self-funded, so we also do fundraising to try subsidise the costs.

What’s your international Goal?
This summer I’ll achieve my first goal when we compete in the European Championships. I want to be part of a medal winning Irish squad.

Who is your favourite female player?
I couldn’t pick one, I’ve trained and played with some brilliant girls and it helps push me to improve my own game.

Who is your favourite male player?
Again I couldn’t pick one – you’re continually learning from the people you play with!

Which countries have you played Softball in? Where was your favourite?
Back in 2009, I travelled to Hluk in the Czech Republic to play in the Burcak (Young Wine) Tournament, up to that point I had only played a couple of games within the Ulster league so it was an brilliant experience.
In July 2014, I played in England at the Diamond 3 tournament. It was my first time playing on proper diamonds and the standard of softball was so different to my normal league. I couldn’t pick a favourite – both were great experiences for very different reasons!